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Day’s Proposal to Enhance School Security Advances
10/18/2017
HARRISBURG – Legislation designed to help school officials better prepare for a variety of emergency situations was further endorsed by the House and is now on its way toward final approval, according to Rep. Gary Day (R-Lehigh/Berks), author of the proposal.

“Currently school districts are required to hold fire drills every year, and while that is helpful to overall preparedness, fires aren’t the only emergencies that can happen at school,” Day said. “Sadly, in this day and age, schools should be afforded the flexibility to prepare their staff and students for different types of emergencies and security situations.”

House Bill 178, which would only affect public schools in Pennsylvania, is the result of Day’s work as chairman of the bipartisan House Select Committee on School Safety and Security two sessions ago. The committee reviewed and investigated the state’s current laws, regulations and policies concerning safety and security in our K-12 schools and institutions of higher education.

After a series of hearings with administrators, teachers, police officers and security experts, the committee recommended that a security drill, much like a fire drill, be held annually.

“Numerous schools across the state already have plans in place in the event of a lockdown due to a community threat, or conduct active-shooter drills, which they coordinate with local law enforcement,” Day said. “We want schools to be among the safest places for students anywhere, because we know that if students don’t feel safe in their classrooms, they cannot learn effectively. This legislation is designed to enhance that level of safety and security.”

Additionally, the bill would allow local public schools to be flexible in shaping these drills according to the needs of their communities. School security drills could include many types of planned exercise, including acts of terrorism, armed intruder situations or other violent threats. Finally, this legislation would require schools to inform local law enforcement and emergency management services of plans to conduct these drills to ensure adequate coordination and input from these entities.

To help minimize any burden this would place on schools, this drill could take the place of a fire drill, which is already mandated by state law.

Day’s legislation is also serving as the vehicle for the Public School Code, which is part of the final 2017-18 state budget package. The overall legislation contains additional measures to enhance curriculum and improve the educational process. Those changes would delay the implementation of the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement until 2019-20 school year; prohibit “lunch shaming” to ensure all students have access to lunches; include opioid abuse and prevention education to drug and alcohol abuse curriculum and enhance agriculture education offerings; and increase the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) by $10 million.

“Having one of my bills serve as the year’s Public School Code is an honor, as it shows the value and importance of the underlying legislation,” Day said. “The amended legislation includes many proposals I support to invest in our schools and give them better resources to instruct our children.”

Due to amendments made in the House, the bill must return to the Senate for concurrence before going to the governor for his signature.

Representative Gary Day
187th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Jennifer Keaton
jkeaton@pahousegop.com
RepGaryDay.com / Facebook.com/RepGaryDay
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